As you might be able to tell from my last post, I'm in an emotional hole. Teaching is hard for introverts and managing the unmanageable is hard for people who like to be competent and in control. Buddhist philosophy counsels nonattachment, simply letting go. Taoist philosophy counsels staying true to your own nature and finding a course through the world that is in harmony with one's own nature and one's surroundings. These currently seem like different paths. Am I to simply let go of my frustrations or change my environment?
It's a moot point anyway. Teaching winds up soon and final exams begin. After grades are calculated and turned in (yes, students, simply calculated -- not given), I am (almost) on "summer break." Next fall I am headed to a different institution, and after that, somewhere else. A peripatetic academic lifestyle, not the one I intended. One which I fought against, in fact, but that's the job market these days: travel or unemployment!
This summer, too, I get to do some travel. I have three conferences and some other trips lined up. Given my recent week I was not seeing the joy involved in 36-hour journeys to exotic locales. Talking with my grandparents on Mother's Day brought back some of the wonder -- they seemed pretty excited about my academic travel. I get to go to interesting locations with some funding help from others and talk about things I love! Thank you, grandparents, for restoring some of my perspective and excitement! It won't all be grading this summer.
In fact, I have two research projects with students very close to completion and two research projects with professional mathematicians making great and intriguing progress. When I think about this summer and the chances I'll have to talk with people (and read all those papers I keep intending to read...) I do feel the stirrings of a battered passion. I am really excited to make progress on these questions, the questions that lead me to talk to myself on the walk back home from the coffeeshop and thus make me look like a crazy lady (more neatly dressed than the archetypal homeless crazy cat lady, but only just). I can't wait to spend all day mulling over them and caffeinating, traipsing from tea shop to coffeeshop to collaborator's office to the back porch. I'm going to read so much and write so much and learn so much and ...!
It is nice to have something to look forward to.